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Registered User
Join Date: Sep 1998
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Posts: 19
Re-upholster with leather?

I am interested in re-upholstering the interior of my '72 914-4 1.7L. My ideal would be to re-upholster the seats/etc. in black leather, but I would consider synthetics if they look good and I can't get the price of leather any lower (I have been quoted $8-14/sq ft and a place on the web was quoting $6, or between $300-500 per hide, for those interested). I had the crazed idea that if I had a blueprint or diagram of how the upholstery was cut and stitched, I could figure out how much leather material to buy, get the leather pieces correctly cut and I may have a chance of making it look OK. I spoke with Tom about this today (he reiterated the merits of leather interiors) and he gave me the number for their upholstery supplier, Autos International. Although friendly, they either don't have or won't provide me with a stitching diagram. Has anyone ever seen or heard of such a blueprint that I could either copy or purchase? Has anyone re-upholstered with leather, or does anyone have any suggestions on how I might go about this? Is this crazy? (I am vaguely aware that it will be a lot of work, and I will have to buy a special leather-stitching kit, but it would all be worth it for a leather interior--plus, I'd relish the challenge.) Also, I don't really like the basket-weave synthetic material and would like to replace that, too, with leather (on the doors and dash). And, does anyone know how much area of material I need to purchase? Will 50 sq. ft cover all? (of course, depending on the shape.)

Also, my targa top is in relatively good shape except the black color seems faded. How should I go about sprucing this up (preferably so it looks new)? Do I repaint it, or just recondition (wax it?) it, or am I simply out of luck?

Last question: my 914 has no wax on it. I plan to clean it up (it has grease and oil on it) and wax it (temporally--nothing too big--as I eventually need to bang out and repaint a rusted dent in the rear from the PO). Any recommendations for wax or finishes?

Thanks for any of your suggestions.
Old 11-23-1998, 02:03 PM
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John Rogers's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 1969
Location: chula vista ca usa
Posts: 5,008
I asked an upholstery shop some time ago and was told they would disassemble the original cover and use it for templates as they had none. This was done when we had the dash recovered, they took the dash out and recovered it. A large shop like Autos International has templates and of course they would not give them away. As a master kite maker, I know how to sew pretty well, but I do not think I would attemp to do the seats, especially in leather as leather is much harder to sew than most fabrics. The sewing machine has to heavy duty and you have to use very heavy thread to insure it will stay together. I might be wrong, but I think the top is a dyed type of color and not a paint. When we had Julia's 1974 repainted, the shop said it was a special finish and when they were done it looked like new even with the grained finish. She waxes the top every weekend. I have seen tops that have been sanded and have a gloss finish applied and it doesn't look as nice I think. As for finish products, I use Meguiars products only, as do a lot of the PCA members in the San Diego reigon. May not be the cheapest, but they sure work great.
Old 11-24-1998, 09:07 AM
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Dave at Pelican Parts's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 1969
Location: Silly-Con Valley
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I have a buddy who has been re-upholstering my seats in leather (and cloth). He's actually been at it for over a year, but that's another story.

Anyway, he told me that he was using something less than half a hide to do the "smooth" parts of the seat--the sides and the headrest. I think he left the back of the seat in vinyl, since you never really see or feel much of it. The basket-weave inserts I had him do in cloth, because it won't get quite so leg-searing hot in the summer.

My suggestion for finding a "blueprint" or pattern to cut and stitch from: Buy a used seat at a swapmeet. It doesn't have to be in very good shape. Take it apart, slit the seams, then trace it onto paper. Instant pattern. Then you can cut out the pattern, and transfer it onto your material.

This also has the added benefit of letting you work on one seat while you still have two in your car.

Old 11-24-1998, 09:08 AM
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Join Date: Jul 1998
Location: Elgin, Illinois
Posts: 76
Eric - I have had great results reconditioning my top with a product called Forever Black. Even the bumpers benefit from two coats of this product. Try it - I think you will be pleased too!
Keith V.
'73 1.7l
Old 11-26-1998, 08:09 AM
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